We at Digital Doggy love stories about dogs at work! We have covered stories such as, service dogs in rescue operations, dogs who assist children read, and dogs who can sniff cancer. It seems like there is no job, too big or too small, that our furry four legged friends can’t take on. And now they are taking on the global fight against the illegal ivory and rhino horn trade, which is destroying wildlife across Africa.
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In Tanzania alone, the global trade of ivory has divested the elephant population by 60 percent in recent years. The whole of Africa saw over 35,000 elephants killed last year and the black rhino population has drop a eye-opening 97.6 percent since the 1960’s. The corruption which ravishes the wildlife population in Africa has run rampeted for the last few decades and the demand in China for ivory and rhino horn, has help to accelerate the devastation of both the elephants and rhino populations.
But now, the brave men and women on the frontlines of the anti-poaching movement in Africa have a new weapon, ivory and rhino horn sniffing dogs. In 2015, the African Wildlife Foundation launched the Canines for Conservation Programme, whose aim is to train dogs to sniff out ivory, rhino horn and other illegally traded animal parts. “This has been running since the start of 2015 and now takes up all of our time training ivory detection dogs which are now successfully deployed with the wildlife authorities in Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda and soon to be in Botswana, Cameroon and Mozambique,” said Will Powers who runs the African Wildlife Foundation’s Canines for Conservation Programme.
The dogs in the program, who range from Belgian Malinois to English Springers to German Shepherds, are trained like conventional drug and bomb sniffing dogs. First, the program choses pups who are friendly, show intelligence and like to play hide-and-seek. Next, these pups are teamed up with handlers who will spend the next few years working day in and day out with their new partners, building up the necessary tools to find the illegal contraband in the field. And finally, when man/woman and dog are ready for action, they are sent out to the frontlines to assist authorities in the anti-poaching fight.
The program has shown amazing results and now the African Wildlife Association is expanding the program across Africa. These dogs are now one of our best hopes to save what is left of the African wildlife. Each day the brave men, women and dogs of the Canines for Conservation Programme are out in the field identifying poachers and sellers of illegal ivory, rhino horn and animal parts. But they still need more help, more dogs, more handles and more funds. If you want to get involved and help to end the devastation of wildlife in Africa, go to www.awf.org/campaigns/dogs-saving-elephants and donate to the cause. And share this article with friends and family, the more we give the more we save!